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Parade Policies and Procedures


The purpose of the Hobo Day Parade is to provide quality entertainment while bringing together South Dakota State University and the incredibly diverse community that makes Hobo Day a cherished tradition. The Hobo Day parade has historically been non-commercial and non-political in nature and strives each year for consistency in those characteristics. The policies and information below outline what categories of participants are allowed in the parade and what each entry/participant is able to do in the parade.

The Hobo Day Committee has the authority to approve entries for the Hobo Day Parade and any requests not specifically addressed in this document. All entries must be approved by the Friday immediately preceding Hobo Day, which is Oct. 13, 2023.

All entries in the Hobo Day parade are expected to adhere to the general policies listed below. Failure to do so may result in removal from the Hobo Day parade and/or restriction from participation in future Hobo Day parades. For specific rules and guidelines on each category of parade entry, please read through the entire policies.

The Hobo Day Committee adheres to the South Dakota State University policy on non-discrimination as they relate to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, gender identity, transgender, sexual orientation, age, genetic information, veteran status or disability. The Hobo Day Committee stresses the importance of eliminating discriminatory behavior and content from the university community and urges all organizations to cooperate in this effort. The committee encourages thoughtful planning in all aspects of the Hobo Day program to reflect and affirm the value and dignity of all members of the campus community.

  1. No advertising for any commercial product or business will be allowed in the Hobo Day Parade, except in the case of business-sponsored Student Entries, which are granted two pieces of signage (one on either side of the entry) no larger than 2 feet by 4 feet bearing the sponsor’s logo.
    1. Business or company vehicles will be permitted to pull entries through the parade as long as graphics or logos on vehicles are within the 2 feet by 4 feet permitted signage dimensions.
  2. Banners of any material are permitted as a means of identifying an entry. The banner should state the name of the group, organization or entity responsible for the entry. (Banners similar in size to those used for high school marching bands are acceptable.)
    1. Business sponsors of student entries are not allowed banners of their own, but must conform to the signage expectations outlined in policy 1.
  1. According to Brookings City Ordinance “Safety regulations for parade participants and observers”, candy, toys or other objects may not be thrown or tossed from entries. Candy may be handed or gently tossed by parade participants, not on the float, to parade observers.
  2. Papers affixed (by tape or string) to candy are not permitted, per policy 3 listed below.
  3. The distribution of flyers, pamphlets, papers, etc. by any parade entry is not allowed in the Hobo Day Parade. Alternatively, items that can be affixed to a person, such as stickers or buttons, are allowed.

The purpose of the Hobo Day parade is to celebrate South Dakota State University and the 100+ years of the homecoming tradition. Smiles, high fives and candy may have a larger impact in promoting a positive view of your organization. The Hobo Day Committee strives to be great partners of the Brookings community and encourages all parade participants to consider the potential littering that may come from anything distributed along the parade route.

The Committee urges questions be asked in advance of parade day related to signage, items permitted for distribution, button or sticker designs and candy to prevent items from being confiscated on parade morning.

  1. The consumption of alcoholic beverages by participants prior to or during the parade is strictly prohibited. The Committee has the right to refuse any parade participant from entering the route or staging areas if they appear intoxicated.
  2. Coolers will be permitted for the use of water, popsicles and other non-alcoholic beverages.  
  3. Any action by any parade participant that breaks a local, state or federal law or South Dakota Board of Regents/South Dakota State University policy may result in the immediate removal of the individual and/or the entry from the parade at the discretion of law enforcement. University personnel may also enforce South Dakota Board of Regents/South Dakota State University policy.
  4. Failure to comply with any parade policies or procedures may result in immediate removal from the parade and/or restriction from participation in future Hobo Day parades.
  1. Candidates for public office are allowed to ride on or walk beside the float of a Student Organization that is affiliated with their respective party (i.e. College Democrats, College Republicans, etc.) or another relevant Student Organization. Each student group must notify the Hobo Day Committee of the candidates associated with their float via their float entry form or email. (This is for local law enforcement’s use on parade day for safety purposes.
    1. Incumbents who are running for political office and who have been invited as dignitaries have the option to ride through as both a dignitary and walk/ride with a Student Organization. Please see the Dignitaries policies for further information.
  2. Candidates not registered with a student organization will not be permitted to go through the parade.
  3. No entry may contain messages promoting a particular stance on any ballot questions or societal issue(s). Acceptable content is at the discretion of the Hobo Day Committee.
  4. No candidate or political organization may distribute literature (flyers, pamphlets, papers, etc.) along the parade route. See Candy and Handout Items policies for list of approved items for distribution. (Parade entrants are highly encouraged to ask questions about items to the Hobo Day Committee for approval in advance of purchase/printing and the parade.)
  5. Each candidate is allowed signage for the purpose of identification. Signage must be able to be carried by a single individual.
  6. Individual candidates will not be allowed separate banners. Banners may only be used to identify the Student Organization, per Advertising policy 2.
  7. Candidates and individuals walking with candidates are permitted to wear T-shirts or apparel featuring the candidate’s campaign and/or logo.
  1. This category is reserved for nonprofit and youth organizations. It does not include school marching bands, invited dignitaries or student entries.
  2. All community entries must receive prior participation approval from the Hobo Day Committee.
  3. Community entries are not allowed to advertise any commercial business or product.
  4. Dimensions of community entries may not exceed 15 feet wide, 15 feet high and 40 feet long.
  5. All animal entries must provide their own immediate cleanup crew.
  6. All animal entries, except those associated with the color guard, will be placed near the end of the parade.
  7. Disruptive animals that have the potential to cause harm to participants or spectators may be removed from the parade at the discretion of the Hobo Day Committee.
  1. The list of invited dignitaries is determined by the Hobo Day Committee.
  2. Candidates for public office are not considered dignitaries, except in the case of incumbents, who may be invited to participate in the parade as dignitaries. In these cases, note that no campaign signage or other campaign materials will be approved as part of the dignitary entry. (See below)
  3. Only signage provided by the Hobo Day Committee may be affixed to dignitary vehicles, unless prior approval is granted by the Hobo Day Committee.
  4. Dignitaries will be provided with transportation organized by the Hobo Day Committee. In the event a Dignitary provides their own transportation, the driver is expected to show proof of insurance and complete a Contract Rider Form prior to the Parade starting.
    1. Dignitaries will not be allowed an additional vehicle to their provided vehicle unless approved by the Hobo Day Committee.
  1. The parade does not officially begin until the corner of Medary Avenue and 11th Street, at the Agricultural Heritage Museum. Bands may be asked to march in tighter formations until they near that point, as Committee members and Parade Volunteers will want to gather as many entries on Medary Avenue as possible.
  2. The location of the judges’ stand on the parade route will be communicated to each band director in advance. At no time should a band stop in front of the judges.
  3. Stopping anywhere on the route will result in immediate disqualification. Stopping is only permitted if a natural break occurs.
  4. Middle School bands will not be judged. However, we ask that Middle School bands follow the Hobo Day Band Policies and Procedures.
  5. Any chaperones or directors that would like to walk with their band are strongly encouraged to do so.


  1. The student entries category is reserved for float and hobomobile entries created and entered by recognized South Dakota State University student organizations, departments or residence halls only.
  2. All floats and hobomobiles entries shall pertain to Hobo Day and/or South Dakota State University. A detailed description of the entry must be included on each organization’s registration form and receive approval from the Hobo Day Committee.
  3. Floats and hobomobiles should showcase pride and promotion of the homecoming tradition and their organization. Great entries may have imagery depicting Jackrabbits, SDSU related messages or decorations related to being a Hobo by Choice.
  4. Vehicles or tractors used to pull entries through must abide by all local, state and federal laws for proper and safe operation of the motor vehicle. All drivers should be 18 years or older of age and have a current driver’s license.
  5. Absolutely no undecorated units will be allowed in the parade. Groups walking with no float or motorized vehicle may be allowed with approval from the Hobo Day Committee.
  6. Dimensions of floats and hobomobiles may not exceed 15 feet wide, 15 feet high and 40 feet long.
  7. Groups will not be permitted a second unit or vehicle(s) to their entry unless approved by the Hobo Day Committee.
  8. All floats and hobomobiles must be approved by the Hobo Day Committee on the Friday prior to the Hobo Day parade each year.
  9. Maintaining participant safety is a top HDC (Hobo Day Committee) priority.  No more than ten passengers will be allowed on any float or hobomobile without prior approval.
  10. The HDC claims no responsibility for damages to the float, the hobomobile or any passengers. Passengers will be required to complete a waiver of liability form prior to the beginning of the parade.
  11. No alcoholic beverages or coolers containing alcoholic beverages of any kind will be permitted on floats or hobomobiles prior to or during the parade. See Prohibited Items and Behaviors policies 1-3.
  12. No Student Entry may distribute literature (flyers, pamphlets, papers, etc.) along the parade route. See the Candy and Handout Items policies for approved items for distribution.
  13. According to Brookings city ordinance, no candy can be thrown from entries. Candy may be handed or gently tossed by parade participants, not on the float, to parade observers.
  14. Student Entries (excluding Fantastic Floats participants) who have secured business sponsorships are allowed to display two signs (one on either side of the entry) no larger than 2 feet by 4 feet bearing the sponsor’s logo.

Questions related to the policies and procedures outlined above can be directed to the Student Entries Coordinator or the Assistant Pooba of Parade.

Awards will be given to select student entries based on criteria of judging form. Judging takes place prior to the start of parade. All student entries that wish to have their entry be eligible for awards should be lined up by 8:15 AM on parade morning.

There are six awards presented by the parade judges. Those six awards are:

  • Best Overall Entry
  • Most Creative Entry
  • Best Greek Entry
  • Most Hobo Entry
  • Best Music Entry
  • Best Hobomobile Entry

Criteria reviewed by the panel of judges includes: theme representation, creativity and originality, quality of workmanship, overall enthusiasm and overall impression.

The Fantastic Floats program was started in 2012 as a way to reinvigorate the quality of student entries in the Hobo Day parade. The program awards grants to student organizations to assist with the cost and construction of their floats. The program is run by the Hobo Day Committee with financial assistance from the SDSU Foundation, local businesses and alumni and friends of the University and Hobo Day each year.

Grant funds are allocated based on the information submitted by Fantastic Floats applicants, including proposed designs for the parade entry, plans for building and past participation. Each group that receives a Fantastic Floats grant is expected to participate in a float building workshop prior to Hobo Day, complete all paperwork and record expenditures for auditing.

For more information on the Fantastic Floats program, please contact the Student Entries coordinator for the details about this year’s program.